A few interesting articles over the past few days, emphasizing our concerns that free trade might be threatened in the new Congress. Late last week we concluded an agreement with Russia on market access, an agreement necessary if Russia is to join the rest of the world trading system in the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was another shot in the arm for American manufacturers, who are always on the hunt for more customers.
Over the weekend, however, there was an op-ed by lefty — uh, sorry, “progressive” — columnist Harold Meyerson, essentially cheering the demise of free trade members of congress and welcoming those more skeptical to trade agreements. Remember that these agreements open markets to US manufacturers, so it’s in our interest to see more of them, but the Dobbsians have it exactly backwards, thinking these agreements cause the trade deficit. They’re wrong.
In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal there was a front page story by Greg Hitt entitled, “Democratic Gains Raise Roadblocks to Free Trade-Push.” This in a nutshell is our concern. As we’ve noted many times here before, Bill Clinton was a centrist in a few key ways and trade was certainly one of them. His ascendancy also spurred the ascendancy of groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a group of centrists committed to, among other principles, free trade. Some 100 Democrats supported Clinton’s push for NAFTA, but their number has dwindled — to 15 for CAFTA earlier this year. Yet both agreements have opened markets to US-made goods. “The U.S. in the past 20 years.” says Hitt, “has championed global and regional trade deals that have significantly lowered tariffs and have helped spur a boom in global trade.” He has it exactly right, but the rhetoric these days has obscured this fact.
There is hope, however. Many of the newly-elected Democrats lean more to the center, or even the right, and it looks like the centrist Blue Dogs and New Dems will pick up many new members. These have been the groups that have pushed the trade deals in the past. If Pelosi & Co. want to hang on to the House for longer than two years and continue the phenomenal prosperity we’ve seen as a nation, we will need more — not fewer — free-trade Democrats.
UPDATE: (Carter Wood) The Washington Post covered the trade topic Tuesday, as well. Straightforward story here.
UPDATE 2: (Carter Wood) Jay Ambrose in The Examiner today offers a harsh assessment of the Democrats for anti-trade leanings. But he’s not too happy with the Administration, either.
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